In the Hands of Snowboarders, Wrist Braces Can HelpSnowboarders commonly sustain wrist injuries. Could wearing a wrist brace protect snowboarders from such an injury? It depends. The authors of this study suggest that a rigid brace can protect the wrist but may cause an injury where the edge of the brace contacts the hand and forearm. By comparison, a softer brace can help absorb enough of the impact to protect the wrist against injury without a secondary injury from the brace.
The authors questioned whether snowboarders who used a soft brace would have fewer wrist injuries. They placed 5,029 snowboarders of varying experience levels into two groups. Half were given a wrist brace to wear on the slopes. About two-thirds of all participants were males; one-third were females. Just over 25 percent of the snowboarders rented their snowboard equipment.
While gathering their results, the authors confirmed earlier studies showing that beginner snowboarders injure their wrists the most. They also found that people who rented their snowboard equipment were more prone to wrist injuries. Perhaps this is because beginners often rent, though the question is raised whether rental equipment is to blame. Notably, most wrist injuries resulted from a backward fall.
Those wearing a wrist brace had significantly fewer wrist injuries. Only eight snowboarders wearing the wrist brace ended up with a wrist injury, including three fractures and five sprains. Strikingly, 29 injuries were recorded in those who didn't wear a wrist brace. Two of these injuries involved fractures, and 27 were sprains.
Given the high volume of sprains among those not wearing a brace, the authors "recommend the use of wrist braces to all snowboarders, even though the beginners will be the group who benefit the most."
Roar RÃnning, MD, et al. The Efficacy of Wrist Protectors in Preventing Snowboard Injuries. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. September/October 2001. Vol. 29. No. 5. Pp. 581-585.
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